American President (1858-1919). Born frail and asthmatic in New York City, Teddy worked hard to build up his physical fitness, becoming a star athlete. He was also considered to be a poor student as a child, but he was diagnosed with bad eyesight -- after he was fitted with glasses, he became an excellent scholar, shot to the top of his class, and graduated from Harvard.

He published the first of a long series of historical books in 1882 and was elected a New York state assemblyman at about the same time. Soon after, his mother and wife died on the same day. Grief-stricken, he went to North Dakota and threw himself into ranching. But he was back in New York within two years, where he married again and ran unsuccessfully for mayor. Over the next few years, Roosevelt served as a Civil Service Commissioner, Police Commissioner, and Assistant Secretary of the Navy. His political career skyrocketed: he was known as a crusader against corruption and an advocate for the "little guy" -- he was despised by corrupt politicians, but loved by almost everyone else.

Roosevelt catapulted himself into the national spotlight during the Spanish-American War, when he resigned his office, volunteered for military service, and organized the cavalry force known as the Rough Riders. He led the Rough Riders in their successful charge up San Juan Hill and returned from Cuba as a bona fide national hero. He was quickly elected Governor of New York.

Though he had enjoyed the support of political kingmaker Thomas Collier Platt in his run for the governorship, Roosevelt's efforts against corruption in New York politics persuaded Platt that he should get rid of Teddy, so he encouraged him to become William McKinley's Vice President. Of course, within months of his election, McKinley was assassinated, and Roosevelt became President.

During his two terms as President, Roosevelt supported "trust-busting" and the Pure Food and Drug Act, established the National Conservation Commission and the National Park System, and pushed for the construction of the Panama Canal. He also became the first American to win the Nobel Peace Prize, by mediating in the Russo-Japanese War.

After leaving the White House, Roosevelt kept busy writing, traveling, and acting as an unofficial diplomat. He ran for the presidency again as the head of the Bull Moose Party. During the campaign, he was shot at by a would-be assassin. The bullet went throught a copy of his speech and a steel glasses case, which helped save his life. Even then, it still went three inches into his chest. He finished the speech and was eventually given a tetanus shot. The bullet was never removed. Teddy's luck did not extend to the campaign -- he lost the election.

His health was permanently damaged during a lengthy expedition into the jungles of Brazil, but Roosevelt stayed very active, supporting the Allies in World War I and opposing President Wilson's League of Nations. He died in his sleep on January 6, 1919.

Roosevelt's boundless energy and love of strenuous activity made him almost incapable of relaxing -- he spent most of his time off exercising, whether swimming, climbing trees, riding horses, or skinny-dipping in the Potomac River. And yes, "Bully!" really was his favorite expression.

Research from Who's Who 2, compiled by Phil Masters, "Theodore 'Teddy' Roosevelt" by Stephanie Rogers, pp. 96-97.

Thanks to Aeroplane for additional info about the assassination attempt.

Theodore Roosevelt, for better or worse, embodied the early American Dream: he was a self-made man; a gun-slinging cowboy; a big-game hunter; a statesman largely untainted with corruption. He was what all Americans secretly strived to be, and he did it all with flair and relish. It comes as no surprise, then, that when this idealized character comes into contact with the civilized realities he must compromise his policies and values.
Roosevelt's youth and early adulthood are part of the American myth: he was a scrawny uncertain boy, son of an imposing banker whom he loved dearly. It was in an effort to please this father, and to prove himself to the world, that Roosevelt first embarked on his obsession with manliness: he took up boxing, big game hunting, and brawling. This pugilist spirit poured over into his politics as well: he was as jingoistic as any, and always willing to be the first to enter any war for whatever cause. After becoming governor of New York, he happily used State troopers and the militia to put down strikes when he deemed it expedient. Yet he also gained sympathy for the laborer in this position, fighting for industrial safety and better working hours for women and children.
Early on in his presidential career, however, Roosevelt was indeed 'most conservative': he relied on the big corporations for much of his political power and the great business minds of the day for advice. The 'course' to which he was committed was generally conservative as well: to stop the worst excesses of monopolies and to protect 'the big propertied men' 'from the dreadful punishment their own folly would have brought upon them'. Regulation, not corporate dissolution, was his policy. Social betterment wasn't exactly high on his priorities, and he didn't see himself as a crusader for moral right: 'I have let up in every anti-trust case where I have had any possible excuse for doing so.'
However, at heart Roosevelt was a fighter, and he soon relished the spotlight that moral crusades gave him, believing he fought 'the fundamental fight for morality'. His 'conservative progressivism' is possibly best evinced through the Northern Securities Case. The railroad conglomerate had grown out of control and was a sore in the public eye. However, to the movers and shakers such as J. P. Morgan, it was a minor, acceptable loss - as long as trust-busting didn't become an everyday affair (Roosevelt made sure it didn't). By attacking the visible offenders and leaving the more entrenched private interests alone, Roosevelt won support on all sides, alienating a few but gaining more.
Northern Securities isn't the only example of Roosevelt's showy, yet relatively ineffectual, moral crusades. The United Mine Worker"s strike also brought Teddy favorably into the public eye: the egotistical management was an easy, politically correct target. Roosevelt held conferences and worked out a 'square deal' for all involved—in theory. In actuality, the UMW still didn't have official recognition as a union and the mining company more than made up for the higher wages in higher coal prices. Roosevelt's great victories, in the end, were mostly talk rather than results, but it was talk that rallied the public behind him.
Despite the less-than-spectacular results of his efforts, Roosevelt still saw himself as a reformer, a fighter for the 'honest man', a moral hero. From the beginning he felt pitted against the 'criminal rich', and later he saw himself allied with labor, 'the superior of capital'. Many, if not most, of the cases that Roosevelt prosecuted were done with the public's interest in mind, rather than cynical self-glorification and personal gain as his end motive. To himself, and the majority of the population, Roosevelt was the American Dream: fervently patriotic, unswervingly steadfast, scrupulous till the end.

Theodore Roosevelt, the man after whom the Teddy Bear was named, was a serious badass.

He originally intended to make a speech on October 14, 1912 in Milwaukee when he was shot by a would-be assassin. The opening paragraph of his speech is as follows:

"Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose. But fortunately I had my manuscript, so you see I was going to make a long speech, and there is a bullet - there is where the bullet went through - and it probably saved me from it going into my heart. The bullet is in me now, so that I cannot make a very long speech, but I will try my best."
From Wikisource, http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/I_have_just_been_shot

He then proceeded to make a full-fledged, 3,700 word speech with a bullet lodged in his chest.  He visited the hospital afterward, only after his speech was completed.

And this was after his charge at San Juan Hill with the Rough Riders, and his stunt with the cavalrymen (they were complaining about riding 25 miles a day in training, so Roosevelt at a spry 51 years of age, rode 100 miles from sunup to sundown).

Oh, and as a young child, he had asthma and academic problems, until he kicked asthma in the balls and got some glasses.  Then he graduated from Harvard and became a cattle rancher, a deputy sheriff, an explorer, a police commissioner, the assistant Secretary of the Navy, the governor of New York, and a war hero.  Oh, and the President of the United States.

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